Me too.

The two words seem innocent. Yet what they represent is anything but.

In case you aren’t on the internet much, allow me to explain. Actress Alyssa Milano started a social media campaign — #MeToo — to encourage survivors of sexual assault and abuse to come forward. “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the problem,” she tweeted (wrote on Twitter, for those who aren’t social media savvy).

It is sad and disheartening to see how many women complied.

In case you don’t think sexual harassment is a problem, I want to tell you a story. It’s about a friend I will call Joan.

Joan came from a poor family, and worked her way through college in a busy retail store. Joan would often see her professors shopping there, and many would stop by for a quick hello.

One in particular would stop by often, when she was working by herself, and tell her graphically what she could do to get an A in his class. She went to another professor, who tried to help her report the actions of the harasser. Mysteriously, that professor’s help was no longer needed at that college.

Up in arms about the harassment, Joan’s male friend, we’ll call him Paul, grew concerned. He started walking her to class, making sure she was inside the room with other people before he walked away.

Paul also had a class with that professor; he flunked, despite the work he put in.

A few years after Joan graduated, the professor was promoted.

Now imagine that Joan is your mother; your sister; your daughter.

Imagine you were there when Joan couldn’t sleep, watching as she sat in her bed sobbing at the unfairness of life. Imagine you were awakened in the middle of the night by Joan sleepwalking, trying to flee from a dream where the harasser became an assaulter.

Imagine you were Paul, rendered helpless by a system in which the victim is guilty until proven innocent — if the victim is brave enough to speak up at all.

Now imagine this — a world where that doesn’t happen.

Imagine a world where victims are listened to instead of shamed. “What did she expect? Look how she dressed.”

Where it doesn’t become a running joke that everyone knows. “Don’t take his class, he offers A’s for sex.”

Where it isn’t a culture that condones that behavior. “It’s locker room talk.”

Where men and women stand together against this kind of behavior.

If everyone works together, maybe we can change “me too” to mean, “I also won’t stand for this.”

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